While social and religious commitment to promoting respect between young and old, is as old as human itself, the perception of the aforementioned institutions as it relates to respect, still hold sway till date. This is majorly because of the way the relationship between the older and younger generation is established. Let’s investigate the disparities and point out how we can do better to help draw the line between respect and idolatry; as the later has become institutionalized.
There are various misconceptions that have gone on for a very unspeakable length of time, concerning how respect is viewed. This is because, it has a social backing: ‘a person is a reflection of his or her family’ as often said. However, while that is very true, it is also interesting to note that the life of an individual does not only rest in the conclaves of their family. For every human life, there is a web of relationship that weaves the individual. This means, that the society becomes a partaker of the result of the first relationship that began within the family.
Often in the family, respect towards the older person is viewed as an obligation. In this regard, it moves to mitigate against any kind of mutuality or reciprocity in the human sense. This kind of relationship interprets that when this obligation is one-sided, the other person wells up in resentment, due to the lack of consideration on the part of others towards him or her. This does not go well in regarding the totality of the existing relationship between both parties. It does not draw the line between respect and idolatry either. It rather encourages idolatry.
For respect to flourish, and all parties involved not excused in the domain of misdemeanor, there has to be a concrete cognizance of the individuality of each person. Thus, when using individuality as a metric for respect, individuals cannot be overlooked and their interests, not pushed aside. This is because for each person to be recognized, or socially put, ‘respected’, their interest or sense of value has to be appreciated in totality. But here comes the question: why is the seeming respect lopsided? Why is the obligation glaringly demanding from the younger generation?- In both social and family settings.
Further research has found that the totality of an individual is built within the family setting. A person is molded according to the environment he or she finds themselves. Therefore, in relating with other members of the society- family inclusive- they relate using the model that they have adopted as absolute truth. They do this without questioning because that is what they have to offer and who they believe to be.
When a person is groomed to see that their potential for acceptance is contingent on their ability to please the authority( older people) over them, they use that as a bedrock to form who they are . This, unbeknownst to the individual, comes at the cost of their sense of self. In other words, the authority over these young people, use them to fill their own inner vacuum of fragile ego. They do this without considering the full humanness of the young person. At this rate, the young person develops without an ability to generate his or her own inner sense of self- worth. they do not believe they have any inherent value at all.
Sadly this is the young generation that is laced with the responsibility of raising another generation. Admittedly, they have nothing to offer beyond what has been offered to them.
How can we solve this daring issue that confronts the society?
Distribute the expectation of respect across board
To draw the line between respect and idolatry, there is a pertinent need to begin with the family. This is because the family is a place where the first, continuous and solid tenets of relationships are formed. In this setting, respect should be distributed evenly across board, and socially accepted as something that the younger generation can expect too. In doing so, we highlight the dignity of the younger person who also have a full human capacity and potential as much as the older generation does. Helping them develop a healthy sense of self, would save the future generation from the cart of victimization.
Take into consideration a person’s individuality
We cannot stress this enough. For every person to be wholly appreciated, the totality of things that they hold dear- their sense of value- has to be taken into cognizance. Performance likeability creates distortion in an individual, especially in a young person. In many settings, people like this do all they can to perform, for fear of withdrawal of love that they would suffer if they express or reveal a contrary opinion. This also, becomes a defaulte in their relationship with other members of the society. In any case, they are not truly living. Rather, their yearn for acceptance does the heavy lifting.This is a pivotal way to draw the line between respect and idolatry.
End the vicious cycle of Idolatry
No one has ever been able to teach correctly, unless they were accurately taught. In the same vein, no one has ever been able to give what they do not have. This is a proven truth. When a person is valued and respected, with his or her sense of value, treated with dignity, it becomes easier for them to respect another. Not out of obligation, but out of its appreciation as a valid human need. This would also enhance a healthy and constructive human relationship. If we suffer a young person into hiding their sense of value because it would not be in our interest, the person suffers and society pays for it.
A story was told of a group of students in a university, who rounded up a fellow student and bullied her, leaving her physically assaulted. Whatever side of the divide we are on, we would agree that those students are a product of a failed upbringing. When we allow a person to feel important- because they really are- and understand that they have inherent value, they will not demand it from society. Above all, they would feel content in themselves. It is not enough to react, what proactive steps are we taking as a people to see that we curtail such incident in the future.
Many times, the younger generation is held responsible for what they inherit. However, the people who enabled those vices are idolized and not held to accountability.
Those students I narrated above have no idea what a sense of identity is, because they have spent their entire lives giving them out- out of obligation- and not receiving. In fact, it’s not something they think they deserve. But of course, the human nature, has its way of demanding what is due to it. It will seek it out, with or without your knowledge.
The root of idolatry is entrenched in selfish desires, while respect is vested in a healthy sense of self. When you see yourself as inherently worthy, there is no blinder that can keep you from respecting another. For a better and more peaceful world, we can destroy this pervasive one-sided ideology of respect and formally adopt a balanced approach. Respect is a human need, a due every person young or old should expect. The young generation of today are laced with the baton of tomorrow’s responsibility. How equipped are they?